Why You Self-Sabotage Your Weight Loss Goals

It's not what you think




I’m going to tell you one of the worst-kept secrets in the world; losing weight is hard.

Ground-breaking right?

I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor.

The reason losing weight is hard is that it isn’t always a straightforward process and there are inevitable obstacles that we encounter.

Take movement for example. Movement is good for you and can help you to achieve your health goals.


When you’re tired after a long day at work or looking after your family, the last thing that you want to do is exert more effort.

This is just one example of the external obstacles that we can face on our weight loss journey. However, this isn’t the only place that obstacles come from.

Some of the largest and most frustrating obstacles come from within.

Sometimes It can start with thoughts of inadequacy, not being worthy or self-talk of failure, like “you always give up” or “you can’t stick to anything” or “you cheated now, might as well give up”.

Maybe at times, you are sabotaging your efforts without knowing or knowing exactly what you’re doing but do it anyway.

This is what is known as self-sabotage. It comes in many forms and affects people in different ways.

To help you recognise, understand, and resolve any self-sabotage that may occur during your weight loss journey, I’ve put together this guide for you.

What is weight loss self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage, put most simply, is getting in your way. It manifests in various forms in different circumstances, so it can often fly under the radar. In terms of your weight loss, self-sabotage is when your self-sabotage your progress toward your own weight loss goals. As I’ve mentioned already, this behaviour looks different depending on the individual. In this guide, we’ll explore self-sabotage and weight loss in depth so you can experience more success on your weight loss journey.

How do people sabotage their weight loss?

Different people will sabotage their weight loss goals in different ways. Some people break their healthy habits during periods of stress, anxiety, or sadness.

Others talk themselves out their movement or exercise with thoughts like “I’ve had a tough day, I can’t do this,” or all the way’s you are not capable of the success you want. If these thoughts sound familiar, then you may be falling into traps of self-sabotage.

People often continue these habits without realising them because of the labels they place on them. Talking about junk food as a “treat” or “reward” helps you to feel ok with indulging in something that you know is harming your weight loss progress.

Now as we have mentioned before eating junk food is normal so it’s important to understand there is a difference between a healthy choice and sabotaging behaviour.


There is also an important difference between the occasional treat and regular consumption of junk food, so it’s essential to understand the regularity of these behaviours.

For example, if you ate a chocolate bar once over a week ago, this isn’t self-sabotage. If you find yourself indulging multiple times a week when you don’t like it, it doesn’t make you feel good, but you are doing it anyway and the behaviour doesn’t fit within your health values.

Or more often the unwanted behaviour that occurs right after you started to see results, felt good or realise progress could be an indicator of a larger problem.


What is self-sabotage a symptom of?

Whether it’s on your weight loss journey, in a relationship, at work, or in any other setting, self-sabotage may occur when we’re afraid of success.

It seems a bit funny when you say it out loud. After all, why would you be afraid of getting what you want? For some of us, we gain something positive from staying the way we are.

A behaviour change, even if it’s positive, may cause fear. Achieving a health goal represents change.

The way people will see us differently, the way we see ourselves. Sometimes it can feel safer emotionally and physically to stay the size that currently are.

Some people eat as a coping mechanism, and if you stay on your weight loss path, you will no longer get the emotional protection of this safety blanket.

For others, self-sabotage comes down to ideas of self-worth. If you don’t feel that you deserve what you want or to achieve your goals, you’re not going to let yourself achieve them. Self-sabotage may manifest itself in habits.

Habits reflect our emotions and deeper feelings.

No matter the underlying feelings, be it fear or insecurity, self-sabotaging weight loss showcases that there is something deeper going on.

The most common self-sabotage habits are:

  • Procrastination – putting off doing what we need to do to get what we want.
  • Self-medication – using something to alleviate feelings we are struggling with.
  • Self-injury – causing harm to oneself.
  • Self-Soothing – finding comforting habits and behaviours

The problem with self-sabotage is that it can trap you in a vicious cycle.

For example…

You have a tough day at work and come home looking for relief. You head into the kitchen and grab a sugary treat. You eat it and experience momentary happiness.

But what happens next?

Almost instantly, guilt kicks in. This makes you feel bad for doing something against your weight loss goal, which causes you to crave relief in the form of more food.

Then the cycle continues.

Identifying your self-sabotage habits from normal and breaking the cycle is the first step in overcoming self-sabotage.

Is overeating a form of self-sabotage?

Yes, overeating may be a form of self-sabotage in certain contexts.

Overeating during a special birthday dinner or on a short holiday isn’t self-sabotage.

This is enjoying your life – something that you need to do whether you’re trying to lose weight or not.

However, if your over-eating is driven by negative self-talk that you’re not worthy of success, this is a red flag.

Again, it comes down to being mindful of your triggers and working towards resolving the underlying cause of them.

What is the most common symptom of self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage may be symptoms of deeper feelings such as:

  • Incompetence
  • Feelings of worthlessness or insecurity
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-hatred

What is the root cause of self-sabotage?  

The root cause of self-sabotage will differ from person to person.

Whilst it often comes down to the same feelings, the cause of these feelings are negative thoughts and beliefs about us and limits on what we deserve.

For some, it comes down to emotional wounds or trauma experienced at a young age that they are yet to deal with or process.  

Uncovering what is causing these feelings on your own is possible, but it isn’t easy.

Getting help from a licensed professional is the best to get to the bottom of what is causing your self-sabotaging habits. 

Is self-sabotage a mental illness?  

No, self-sabotage is not a mental illness.

It is instead an indicator of mental health. If you find yourself sabotaging the progress of achieving your goals, there is something deeper going on.

These habits are symptoms of mental illness, not the illness itself.  

Are you ready to change, to jump all in, and don’t want to go another day without taking action? Book a discovery call and start taking action today —>

3 Steps to heal weight loss self-sabotage

Self-sabotage isn’t something you can heal quickly like a cold.

Given that it’s a reflection of deeper issues, it’s something that will take time and patience to overcome.

The first step is to acknowledge and identify your negative self-talk, beliefs, and habits of self-sabotage.

Journaling these in some way or another and using mindfulness can be incredibly beneficial.

For example…

If you find yourself repeating thoughts of negative self-worth, undeserving of health or rewarding progress by heading to the kitchen for a treat, take a moment to reflect on why.

Take note of how you’re feeling at that moment and collect data on what you do without judgement.

These practices teach you to be more mindful of these habits in future.

Step 1: Talk to yourself

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my thoughts?
  • What am I feeling at this moment?
  • Are these feelings based on facts or fears/assumptions?
  • Am I reacting reasonably to this given situation?

When answering these questions, be objective, honest and without judgement.

Step 2: Be a witness to your life

Take small steps to push yourself toward the weight loss habits and behaviour changes you want to make and pay attention to what happens.

  • Notice what comes up for you as you feel successful.
  • When do the negative thoughts start
  •  When do you start to sabotage
  • What are you feeling at this moment
  • What do you really need right now

Step 3: Take Action

If you want to change then you need to address the underlying cause of why you self-sabotage.

Because it’s not just about weight loss anymore.

Your underlying wounds and trauma seep into your everyday life. Healing self-sabotage helps your overall health and well-being and will help you to achieve not only your weight loss changes but any other goals or dreams that you may have.

It will allow you to remove the obstacles that you place in front of yourself and help you to realise your full potential.  

This can be the hardest part, as it will involve confronting deep, difficult thoughts and feelings.

Now, this may sound scary, but I promise you, the freedom that comes with change is more than worth it.




Jodi Clarke

Jodi Clarke

CEO & Founder | Clinical Hypnotherapist | Weight Loss Specialist

Leading the charge is Jodi Clarke, the CEO and Founder of Awaecnan, a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist specialising in weight loss hypnotherapy in South East Melbourne and the peninsula. Having studied at The Academy of Hypnotic Science, an Australian government-accredited Clinical Hypnotherapy training academy, Jodi’s hypnotherapy skills are both effective and award-winning as she supports clients to achieve positive changes in their everyday lives.

To find out more Connect with Jodi on Facebook or Instagram

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